Couple’s Baby Dies in Foster Home Crib

October 8, 2008 - 12:49 PM
A Milwaukee couple is still waiting for answers after their baby boy died in foster care last week - two days after being removed with three other children from their home.
Milwaukee (AP) - A Milwaukee couple is still waiting for answers after their baby boy died in foster care last week - two days after being removed with three other children from their home.
 
"A week before he was taken from the home we had taken him to the doctor and he was as healthy as can be," the boy's father, Robert Whitman, said Tuesday night. "Today was supposed to be his 2-month checkup."
 
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office reported Oct. 2 that 2-month-old Robert R. Whitman was found dead earlier that day in the crib where he was sleeping at a foster home.
 
The report listed the cause of death as undetermined, pending an autopsy.
 
Whitman said Tuesday that he and the boy's mother, Valissa Reynolds, have been told an autopsy was inconclusive on what caused the death. Officials were waiting for results of throat cultures because the youngest girl in the family had strep throat, "and they thought that might have something to do with it," he said.
 
A worker from the Bureau of Child Welfare removed the four children Sept. 30 because of filthy conditions in the residence and bruises on one child, according to the medical examiner's report.
 
Whitman said the bruises on the child's legs probably happened while two of the children were jumping on the bed, something they love to do.
 
As for the disarray, Reynolds has said that she had been ill with a virus for two weeks, and her house otherwise would have been clean.
 
Whitman said he and Reynolds learned of the death at a disposition hearing Thursday, when they had expected to find out when the children would be returned to them.
 
The death has left friends and family members "completely shocked and stunned," Whitman said. "Both grandmas on both sides of the family are completely mortified."
 
Whitman said he and Reynolds, who aren't married but live together, don't know when the three children, ages 1 1/2, 3 and 7, will be returned.
 
"Essentially if we can prove to them that we can keep our house clean, we can have them back," he said.
 
The medical examiner's report said details of the case were given to Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Kathy Kucharski, who did not return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday night.